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It's common wisdom that if you eat too many sugary foods, you will get fat and increase your heart attack risk. As health advice goes, it's uncontroversial... Right?
Not according to new research, which suggests that eating chocolate five times a week actually reduces an overweight person's risk of having a heart attack.
A study presented by the American Heart Association found that those who are carrying too much weight were less likely to have a coronary artery disease (CAD)-related event, such as a heart attack, if they had a treat every weekday.
Overweight people who don't eat any chocolate at all were surprisingly most at risk of their heart packing in, the research found.
Minimally processed dark chocolate has long been linked to better heart health due to its antioxidants protecting against the effects of 'bad cholesterol'.
It is also known to contain compounds called 'flavanols' which lower blood pressure, boost blood flow and preventing blood clots.
Now this study has found that these positive effects don't occur in those who have a healthy BMI or are underweight. Wait, so I ate all those Bournevilles for nothing?!
The U.S. researchers believe that this is due to chocolate's positive impacts only being small, and therefore only being worth it for overweight people more at risk of heart disease. Gutted.
Researchers from the VA Boston Healthcare System - a set of hospitals in Boston, Massachusetts, analysed the health of 148,465 US veterans over a period of time, with their average age being 64 and 90% of them being men.
At the start of the study, none of the participants had heart disease - in this case, plaque build-up in their arteries which might put them at risk of a heart attack.
The vets were asked how often they eat 28 grams of plain milk or dark chocolate and were followed for about two and a half years. In that time, 2.7% (4,065) of them experienced a CAD-related event.
The results revealed that overweight vets who consumed five or more servings of chocolate each week were least likely to be among that 2.7%, while overweight vets who never ate chocolate were most at risk.
As for those who had a BMI considered to be healthy or underweight, chocolate had no effect on their CAD risk whatsoever.
So if you're packing a few extra pounds already, it probably won't hurt you to pop down to the corner shop now. Get me a Freddo while you're there please?
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